My Experience at the 1-day Retreat with Gilbert Gutierrez

My Experience at the 1-day Retreat with Gilbert Gutierrez                           

                                                                                                            by Jeff G.

I am still astounded by my experience at Dharma Drum Mountain this weekend where I attended the 1-day retreat taught by Gilbert Gutierrez. From the very beginning of the day, I was so impressed by the generosity that permeates Dharma Drum Mountain, from the kindness and welcoming of people who run it, to the fact that the teachings are freely offered. This is my second day-long retreat, and I was greeted as if I were already family by people who remembered my name. Never have I been treated with such kindness and warmth!
Although most of my experience on the Buddha’s path is in the Theravada Tradition, I did not feel the least bit out of place at Dharma Drum Mountain, but instead I felt comfortable and relaxed due to everyone’s kindness. Throughout the day, instructions for new comers were spelled out clearly so that one could easily follow along with the program. I was even given some personal instruction in how to do walking meditation in the Chan (Chinese Zen) style, which I found was even a better method for me than the way it is done in Theravada.

The energy created by the practitioners at Dharma Drum Mountain is palpable. The Chan Hall is beautifully decorated and there is a still peacefulness in the hall. I am still in absolute awe of the teacher, Gilbert Gutierrez, who seemed very attuned to the minds of those who attended the retreat. His transmission of the dharma was clear as a bell, and the wisdom and compassion he imparted has had a profound impact on me. 

Even though it is a few days after the retreat, this day of practice has helped me be more centered in compassion towards others, so that I am not as pushed and pulled by the difficulties and the suffering that I encounter in my work as a social worker. Instead, I can be centered in awareness that knows what to do without having to think. I have found it easier to let go of mental proliferation and return to peace.

I feel like learning the dharma in both traditions is helping me broaden my perspective in a way that leads to a deeper understanding. I have found Chan methods to be very helpful in the development of my meditative practice.  After this 1-day retreat, it has become clear that my practice of the Buddhadharma must now evolve from its Theravada roots to fully embrace Chan as well.

I am grateful to have a place like Dharma Drum Mountain where I can go to develop a Chan practice in the years to come. The level of skill and wisdom in the dharma of the teachers who serve Dharma Drum Mountain such as Gilbert Gutierrez and Guo Gu is not easily found in the world, they are like a jewel to be treasured. I am overjoyed to have discovered this. Thank you to all who work to make the center and the teachings offered here possible.